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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

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Triumphant return: Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki raises his NBA Finals MVP trophy after he exits the team plane at Love Field on Monday. Dallas beat the Miami Heat 105-95 on Sunday to win its first NBA title. AP

Mavs arrive back in Big D

AP

DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks returned home in triumph on Monday, cheered by hundreds of fans celebrating the franchise's first NBA title and the first professional championship of any kind in the area in more than a decade.

Owner Mark Cuban walked off the plane at Love Field carrying the championship trophy he was handed after Sunday's Game 6 win over the Miami Heat.

Next came forward Dirk Nowitzki with hardware of his own: The NBA Finals MVP trophy that was awarded after he overcame a finger injury, illness and smothering defense from the Heat to power fourth-quarter comeback wins.

Cuban, the Dallas billionaire who bought the team in 2000, had the championship trophy in a seat next to him on the plane and he apparently kept it close throughout the Sunday night celebration.

"This will sound weird," he wrote on Twitter. "I'm laying in bed. With the trophy next (to) me."

Cuban will keep the party going at least through Thursday morning, the date set for the team's victory parade through the streets of downtown Dallas.

Team spokeswoman Sarah Melton confirmed the date Monday, but said the precise route and other details would be announced Tuesday. Cuban has said that he will pick up the tab for the city's parade costs.

The championship, the first in the 31-year history of the Mavericks, represents a breakthrough. The franchise was once one of the worst in the NBA and, even after Cuban's infusion of cash and energy, had a reputation of failing to win big games — including a loss to Miami in the 2006 Finals after leading the series 2-0.

The title is the city's first since the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999 and it comes four months after the Super Bowl in suburban Arlington included not the Cowboys but Green Bay and Pittsburgh along with a spate of bad weather. The Texas Rangers advanced to the last World Series, but lost to San Francisco.

As the Mavericks wore down the Heat, fans crowded into downtown Dallas on Sunday night to celebrate. Police reported 14 arrests, including six for public intoxication, four for disorderly conduct and four people taken into custody on outstanding warrants.

By Monday, attention had turned to the homecoming.

The team charter passed under a water cannon salute after it landed. Cuban, a cigar in his mouth, walked off first, followed by Nowitzki, both holding the trophies high. They then went across the runway to a security fence, touching off a celebration that lasted about 30 minutes and allowing fans who spent hours waiting in 30 C heat to get a taste of the title.

Cuban eventually handed off the championship trophy to members of the team, who walked along the fence as fans held cell phones high to take photos. As Nowitzki was driven away, he held the MVP trophy aloft through the sun roof of his sport utility vehicle.

TV ratings get boost

AP

New York — The Dallas Mavericks' clinching victory in the NBA Finals earned the highest preliminary television rating for a Game 6 in 11 years.

The Mavericks' 105-95 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday on ABC drew a 15.0 overnight rating. That's the best for a Game 6 since 2000, when the Lakers clinched a title over the Pacers. There have been five series since that went at least six games.

The rating was up 35 percent from Game 6 of the '06 Finals between the same teams, when the Heat clinched the championship.



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